Scrolling through an Instagram feed full of images of colourful, exotic destinations can fill you with pangs of envy.
But before you go completely Kermit, remember that for millions of other people around the globe, you already are in an exciting, exotic city! And just because it feels familiar, doesn’t mean you can’t explore it with all the excitement of a wide-eyed international traveller.
Here are five Melbourne staycation ideas that are guaranteed to fill your feed with amazing pics — and you won’t have to take a flight to do it!
1. Get amongst the lanes and arcades
You’ve probably paced through them a thousand times, but how well do you actually know Melbourne’s fabulous laneways and arcades? Do a walking tour with a knowledgeable guide and see them with fresh eyes. Discover underground arcades, secret artscapes, gorgeous boutiques, fashion incubators and inspired architecture. There are various themed tours on offer, depending on your interests. Choose from culture and shopping walks, chocolate tours, food and architecture tours, and street art walks. And they’re not expensive, which means you can sign up for two or three and make a weekend or short break of it. Plus, you’re very likely to meet international travellers along the way, whose curiosity will be contagious!
Where to stay
Melbourne has no shortage of boutique hotels tucked away in the lanes, but you can’t go past the Adelphi for pure sass, style, and a sweet finish. The hotel is home to Om Nom Kitchen, which specialises in desserts that can best be described as edible works of art (do the Dessert Degustation for the chance to try three!). Just six minutes’ walk from Federation Square (where most walking tours begin), and with that famous rooftop pool that juts out over Flinders Lane, the hotel has 34 rooms — each with a complimentary mini bar, coffee station and premium Hunter Lab amenities.
2. Enjoy a touch of Paris at home
It’s actually very easy to theme a stay in Melbourne around just about any popular overseas destination (Italy, the United Kingdom, Vietnam, and even Peru spring to mind), but one of the easiest to pull off has to be France! There are touches of Paris to be found across the Victorian capital. Just roll them all together into one or two amazing days, and voilà — instant staycay! Head to popular Lune Croissanterie on Russell Street for a flaky treat, or sit and sip at a sidewalk cafe in Hardware Lane. Graze on French-style cheeses below ground at the Spring Street Grocer, or sample the canelé at petite Agathé Patisserie in Royal Arcade. Walk off the extra calories down our very own Champs-Élysées (aka ‘the Paris end’ of Collins Street).
Where to stay
The Citadines on Bourke Melbourne has that je ne sais quoi that makes it the perfect hotel for a French-inspired sojourn. Maybe it’s the location (right in the heart of the top end of town), the stylish symmetry and contemporary finishes, or the hotel’s own French heritage. You be the judge. The Citadines’ Apart’hotels philosophy is to give guests a complete space to call their own during their stay, and Citadines on Bourke offers 375 generously sized studios, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments.
3. Treat yourself to a beachy break in St Kilda
St Kilda is all too often taken for granted by us locals. Not all large cities are situated so close to a quintessential seaside retreat, and this one holds a part of Melbourne’s soul in its slightly grungy grasp. You can easily fill a day here. Start with brunch at fabulous Fitzrovia on Fitzroy Street, then stroll down to the beach and along the esplanade to the St Kilda Sea Baths. Stop and take in the intriguing images of yesteryear. Lunch at the charming St Kilda kiosk at the end of the pier (a replica of the 1904 Edwardian original), then delight in the secret family recipe used by Piccolina Gelato. Dive into an early seafood dinner at Claypots, before heading to the faithful Dogs Bar for a nightcap — on the terrace in summer, or by the fireplace in winter!
Where to stay
Location, location, location! Adina Apartment Hotel St Kilda Melbourne is situated at the top end of Fitzroy Street, just a stone’s throw from the tram interchange, and within walking distance of everything St Kilda has to offer. The hotel has 83 light-filled apartment-style accommodation options, including studios, and one and two-bedroom apartments. They’re spacious and well-appointed with contemporary furnishings and modern bathrooms. Each one and two-bedroom apartment has a fully functioning kitchen.
4. Travel through place and time via art
Most of us like to get arty on holiday by visiting local galleries and museums, and there are oodles of opportunities for locals to do exactly that in Melbourne. The city is home to a world class array of cultural institutions. Start with a wander through the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) on St Kilda Road to take in just a sniff of the permanent collection of around 75,000 works. Around the corner on Sturt Street, the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art’s iconic burnt red rust coloured façade is worth seeing in itself. Head inside and join the conversation on what makes modern art (in all its forms) — art.
Over in Federation Square, the NGV’s Australian collection beckons, as will the new-look Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) when it reopens in 2021. While you’re in the ‘hood, head up Hosier Lane to find and photograph the latest Melbourne street art. You may be in luck and meet an artist at work.
Where to stay
Art lovers will adore a night or two at The Westin Melbourne, which overlooks St Paul’s Cathedral and Melbourne Town Hall. Not only can you walk to all of the CBD’s key arts facilities with ease, but the hotel boasts its own impressive collection of contemporary Australian art. See works by Bill Henson, Jacky Redgate, John Young, Imants Tillers and more. From the Art Deco-style lobby with its sweeping staircase and rich tones, to the 262 spacious guest rooms (complete with The Westin’s signature Heavenly Beds), this hotel impresses at every turn. The wood panelled Lobby Lounge is a great spot to adjourn to in the evening to debate the day’s artistic highlights.
5. Let your cares float away
There’s nothing quite like a float to release tension and stimulate a Zen state of being. Brothers and self-proclaimed ‘float evangelists’ Nick and Ben Dunin have opened Beyond Rest float centres in Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, after being inspired by a daily floater who seemed to be living a life of ‘super consciousness’. Making floating mainstream rapidly became the goal. Possible benefits include improvements in work performance, awareness, emotional response and creativity, along with an increased sense of wellbeing.
Melbourne’s Beyond Rest is located a short walk from Chapel Street in Prahran. Like me, on arrival you might feel slightly nervous at the thought of possible claustrophobia while lying in an enclosed pod with no distractions but a blue light and one’s own heartbeat for a whole hour. Don’t worry. The time passes all too quickly.
‘The world is waking up to the mind and body benefits of floating’, the Beyond Rest team say. The 500 kilograms of Epsom salts in the water induces a sense of zero gravity, while the water and the pod itself cancel out any external sound — apart from the optional Solfeggio tones that play for the full 60 minutes. Afterwards, you’ll be ready to dive back into the choppy seas of city living, completely refreshed and revitalised.
Where to stay
Reinforce your new-found state of inner calm with a stay at one of Melbourne’s top spa hotels. City picks include The Langham Melbourne with its uber-exclusive Chuan Spa, or the InterContinental Melbourne, which offers a full range of tension releasing massages and spa treatments at its tranquil Botanica Day Spa.
Closer to the Prahran ‘hood, the privately owned and operated Lyall Hotel and Spa in South Yarra is a boutique retreat from the outside world. Choose from the tri-level spa’s menu of ‘rituals’, then float down Chapel Street afterwards for a retail bliss-out.
Do you have any suggestions to add to our list of Melbourne staycation ideas? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.
Additional images: Bigstock
About the writer
Ruby Boukabou is a travel, culture and food writer based between Europe and Australia. She has written for The Age, The Australian, Qantas, Issimo, The Diplomat, Paris Voice and Inside Film. She has also produced culture and travel stories for the ABC, SBS and Screen Australia. When Ruby’s not writing, she is probably tap dancing. She is a founding member of the Paris Tap Crew (which produces the monthly Paris Tap Jam) and a member of jazz/world music group Le Shuffle Project.
About the writer
Adam Ford is editor of The Big Bus tour and travel guide and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger and photographer. He has travelled extensively through Europe, Asia, North America, Africa and the Middle East. Adam worked as a travel consultant for a number of years with Flight Centre before taking up the opportunity to travel the world himself as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten. He loves to experience everything a new destination has to offer and is equally at home in a five-star Palazzo in Pisa or a home-stay in Hanoi.